Last night, 26 October, as thousands of Khana Rastdon pro-democracy protestors marched on the German Embassy in Bangkok, on the other side of the world, Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, had this to say:
“Of course, we are following the developments that are taking place in Thailand – that there are demonstrations, people who are taking to the streets for their rights.”
“And of course, I am also watching what the Thai king gets up to in Germany. We’ve been keeping an eye on that, not only in the last few weeks, but we’re continuously checking.”
“And if there are things that we find to be illegal, then there will be immediate consequences.”
This wasn’t the first time the German foreign minister commented on His Majesty King Rama 10.
During the German parliament session on 8 October, in response to questions alleging that the Thai king directs Thai politics from Germany, he said:
“We have made it clear that politics concerning Thailand should not be conducted from German soil.”
For many years, the king has made Germany’s Bavaria State his home.
Through the three months of Thailand’s political protests, the Thai monarchy has increasingly become the center of attention. The three core demands of Khana Ratsadon include the resignation of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, rewriting the constitution, and reforming the monarchy institution.
Last night, at the front gate of the German embassy, with Thai police staring from across the barricades, Khana Ratsadon unfurled a banner that read, “Reform the Monarchy Institution.”
Meanwhile, in the special parliament session called for 26 and 27 October, the issue of monarchy reform is barred from the debate. Nonetheless, government coalition parties – Palang Pracharat, Bhumjaitai, and Democrats – all pledged their allegiance to the monarchy, as did the 250 junta-appointed senators.
Furthermore, in Thailand’s streets, from Bangkok to provincial cities, royalists in yellow shirts have come out in droves to support the monarchy.
There have been minor incidents of clashes between the two sides.
Thailand’s political conflict has been dubbed a generation clash. However, with the monarchy question front and center over these past weeks, Khana Ratsadon may very well come into a clash with the kingdom’s most powerful institution.